धर्म, dharma

"what supports the universe", the laws of the universe, religious laws, the path of righteousness,
from the root dhṛ – to hold, to support.

Dharma is originally and more holistically called Sanatana-Dharma (eternal dharma), later the terms Hindu-dharma and Hinduism appeared, also implying dharma.

Dharma is a much broader concept than religion in the Western sense. According to the Vedas, dharma is the correct fulfillment of the purpose of any (living or inanimate) object, phenomenon, regularity; in relation to a person, it is a way of behavior that is most favorable for his spiritual development, following his destiny (svadharma).

Sanatana Dharma is as an eternally existing, cosmic law, universal truth, has no founder and no date of foundation. It was recorded by the ancient sages in “Rigveda” as the fruit of their efforts to comprehend the structure of the universe, its harmony, as well as the place of a human in the cosmic order. All the shastras devoted to medicine, warfare, politics, various forms of art, astrology, etc., are based on dharma.

Dharma is one of the four purposes (Purushartha) of human life. Dharma is both what is supported and what supports. On one hand, dharma as a harmonious structure of the world is supported by the natural course of phenomena in it, on other hand, following dharma supports a person, giving them what they need – inner satisfaction, harmony in consciousness.

Since dharma is oriented towards the understanding of the world, it is characterized by many ideas and practices – hence the diversity of teachings and beliefs united by the term "Hinduism".

In the yogic sense, dharma can mean that a yogi keeps himself, his attention on something essential for a long time, on something that protects him from spiritual fall.